Two blue dresses

A confession. I am not afraid of flying. I am not afraid of spiders. But I’ve been suffering from a bad case of knits-o-phobia. However this month the Monthly Stitch ran a Sew Stretchy challenge, and I decided that it was high time for some exposure therapy. The first exposure was a disaster. I’ll EASE into this post by making it EASE-y for you to guess what the problem was.

New Look 6097 blue stripe 2

Oh, is that a br-EASE blowing through the tr-EASE?

New Look 6097 blue stripe 1

Pl-EASE shut the door or I’ll fr-EASE.

New Look 6097 blue stripe side

I dutifully cut the pattern as directed for my measurements. Five inches of ease in the hips? Yeah, sounds about right. The pattern is New Look 6097. The fabric is a nylon/cotton blend from Levana (love that place).

New Look 6097

Now, there is nothing wrong with this pattern… IF you cut the size that has your bust measurement as the finished garment size (ie, zero ease).

New Look 6097 blue stripe back

I ended up having to take it in twice at the side seams, and lift the shoulders by an inch, and narrow the shoulders by half an inch. The first time I sewed the side seams I was careful to match all the stripes. By the third time… let’s just say they’re not perfect. Honestly, it was kind of a blitz and I’m lucky it turned out so well.

New Look 6097 blue stripe bodice

The other change I made (obviously) was to put a band around the neckline, and to cut elbow length sleeves. I also left the pockets off this version. Oh, and left the elastic out of the waist seam, and just fitted it a bit more snugly instead (it’s stretch fabric, after all). Final product: 9/10. The journey: 0/10. Version 2 was much simpler. This one is in a divine wool/silk/nylon blend from The Fabric Warehouse (their 40% off sale made it about $17/m).

New Look 6097 blue wool 3

I had an ‘oh no’ moment when I first tried it on, as it was a bit itchy, but I’ve washed it in conditioner and now it’s fine.

New Look 6097 blue wool 1

This one has long sleeves and pockets, and also has a band around the neckline. Next time I make this pattern (and I will make it again, we’re friends now) I’ll make the band shorter, so that it pulls the neckline in a bit more firmly.

New Look 6097 blue wool bodice

So, no more knits-o-phobia! And the rumours are true, sewing with knits is QUICK. To prove it, here are two baby hats that took half an hour to make. Half an hour each? Nope, total!

hat both

Made using the lovely top knot baby hat tutorial. If you know a lot of new babies like I do, this is a great tutorial to add to your repertoire: you can make four hats from 40cm of 150cm-wide fabric.

hat pink

The pink-and-white stripe is courtesy of Fabric-a-brac, and the red is from Johanna (thanks Jo!).

hat red

I kind of feel like I need another month of knits, to get them out of my system.

Budget officially blown (not unlike Australia’s)

It seems only fitting that in the wake of the Hockey Horror Show, my budget should be similarly blown. Although sometimes it’s wonderful to be an expat, it’s hard not to feel some ties to home. After all, Australians love their Kiwi cousins – surely the feeling is mutual?

So, I ended February with $158 left from my optimistic $365-for-the-year.

In March, I went to Melbourne and bought spandex to make Rose Hip tights and a maternity top (a gift). Since the tights have now gone to a new home I’m going to decide they don’t count either. I also bought some cotton for burp cloths (also a gift).

Then, Fabric-a-brac happened, which cost me $32, plus an extra $20 for a Hummingbird pattern that Kat had ordered for me.

fabricabrac

Next, the WSBN went to Levana, a knits paradise, and I spent a (comparatively restrained) $37 on what will soon be two dresses and a t-shirt.

The very next weekend, a local church had a fabric sale, which cost me $19 (mainly in notions).

And the icing on the cake… this week The Fabric Warehouse undercut The Fabric Store by having a 40% off sale. You could tell they meant war, because they included drinks and snacks. I found myself $130 poorer, mind you, $40 of that is a delicious wool/silk trouser blend, to make two pairs of work trousers for the Fashion Critic. Does anyone know a good men’s trouser pattern, that’s formal enough for the office? Other goodies were a navy wool blend knit for a work dress, some viscose/elastane for a slip (and an amazing 80s Knitwit pattern for the same purpose), some green sweatshirting for a Lola dress and some more spandex for Rose Hip tights V2.0.

So, it’s only May, and I’m already $40 in the red.

You know, I don’t care. I haven’t used much stash, but I haven’t added to it either. I’ve had a productive year, made lots of good presents, and challenged myself with new techniques and patterns. I’m going to keep on keeping track, because I think it’s good to know how much sewing is costing me, but I know that every dollar is worth it. If nothing else, it means that I’m a tiny part of a huge and diverse community.

Baby love

To finish part 1 of the story…

Here is my sister in another maternity top I made, once again using the (free! awesome!) Turn About The Room pattern. The fabric is from the Queen Victoria markets in Melbourne.

turn about the room top

Here are some pictures of burp cloths for her baby shower (she said “what are these?” but I assume she’s figured it out by now)

P1010159
I think I used this tutorial. One side is quilting cotton, the other side is flannelette. They’re about 47 x 32 cm (roughly 18 x 13″).

P1010154

The horses and ducks are the flannelette, in case it’s not clear in the photos.

And finally… the moment we’d all been waiting for… after FORTY TWO weeks, people! (My sister deserves a prize)…

baby

This cutie arrived.

Top of the morning

More sewing double, but too late for the Monthly Stitch April challenge. I blame the end of daylight savings. There have been very few mornings lately with the magic combination of a) light b) no rain c) the Fashion Critic in the right mood to be photographer, and d) the model (me) not running late for work.

I have been wearing this skirt to work nearly every day, and needed some tops to go with it. One of the WSBN ladies (I think it was Wendy) did a big pattern clear-out and I scored this one, Style 4268.

Style 4268

Coincidentally, the week before that I had made a bodice block (my first ever!) using The Costume Technician’s Handbook. This book has a rather wonderful chapter explaining how to draft a bodice, skirt, sleeve, collars, even pants, from scratch. One of the things I love about sewing is that there is so much to it, but you can get as involved as you like. If you just want to make a dress, you can go out and buy a pattern and some fabric, and make a pretty good dress. But if you prefer, you can spend years learning about fit and drafting, couture finishes, and fabric. To the untrained eye, your dress will look much like the first one. But you will know it’s not!

So I used my block to adjust this pattern. The gathering at the yoke made this a bit challenging, but I just increased the width of the front and back pieces while keeping the armhole the same size, and it worked like magic. Since this is a pull-on pattern, I also got rid of the waist darts, which made the fit quite a bit looser.

Style 4268 green front

Hmm. Probably better tucked in.

First I made view 1, with the awesome 80s-school-teacher collar. This was planned as a wearable muslin, using a $5 silk/cotton from the Fabric Warehouse. It’s not my most loved colour, but is a great fabric with a mix of green and yellow filaments giving that ‘shot silk’ look.

Style 4268 green back

The sleeves are the same shape as in the pattern, but I didn’t have enough fabric to make long sleeves, so they’re elbow length. I did initially gather them but decided I prefer them as loose batwing sleeves. Groovy!

Style 4268 green sleeve

Next I made view 2, with the pussy bow (I’ve wanted a pussy-bow blouse for exactly ages).

Style 4268 blue front 3

This fabric is a beautiful viscose that I bought from the Fabric Store on the craft crawl last year. I can’t tell you how much I love this fabric. I love the blue and yellow. I love how it looks faded. I love how soft it feels.

Style 4268 blue front 2

 

Style 4268 blue bow

The first time I wore it I pulled on a cardigan and riiiiip!

Style 4268 blue rip

The cuff pulled away from the sleeve. The cuff isn’t quite big enough so maybe that’s why it happened. Anyway I’ve been wearing the sleeves rolled up but will have to either fix it or change it to three-quarter sleeves. I had 1.5m of fabric and that was only barely enough, so there’s none left.

One more shot to show you how pretty it is.

Style 4268 blue back 1